Topscape Makes Septic Systems Look Pretty

One out of four homes has a septic system, and manholes in the middle of a backyard can break up the landscape and prove to be an eye sore. Tanks need to be inspected and pumped on a regular basis to remove the accumulated layers of scum and sludge, and, therefore, the openings to the septic system need to remain easily accessible.

President of TopScape, Tom Donahoe, came up with the idea for his business off the suggestion of a friend. Working in the concrete tank manufacturing business, his friend started to see a prospective new market emerge, “He had a lot of complaining homeowners who were tired of looking at their manholes and wanted them covered,” Donahoe says.

What blossomed was TopScape, a company that specializes in raised flower gardens specifically designed to cover unsightly septic systems. From the onset, Donahoe collaborated with a design engineering firm, Integrated Design Solutions, to come up with TopScape’s signature raised flower garden design. “We wanted to create something of high quality,” Donahoe says, in addition to the product being aesthetically pleasing and easy for pumpers to move.

TopScape’s raised flower garden is meant to be “a DIY-type product,” according to Donahoe. It arrives unassembled and requires about a half hour of time to put together. A rectangular box arrives containing four flower pots and three sections of natural cedar measuring sixteen inches high and one foot by three feet in width and length. The cedar sections are assembled with screws, and the flower pots go inside ready to be planted up with real or artificial flowers, per the homeowners’ design tastes. Donahoe says the kit is easy enough for a homeowner to do themselves, and the resulting flower bed is pretty, functional, easy to maintain, as well as to move when a pumper needs to get to the septic tank.

Donahoe went through a number of options for the exterior of the garden kit before settling on natural cedar, “It is, by far, the best product.” First, he looked at plastic meant to simulate wood. He didn’t like the look of that. Then he looked at actual wood, contemplating pine and oak before settling on his choice. Cedar, aside from simply being a nice looking product, would work well in various climates, especially those to the north.

Whatever the climate TopScape’s customers reside in, when choosing what to plant in a raised flower garden, low maintenance is the key. Low maintenance flowers and plants don’t require much tending, and plants such as decorative grasses, for example, are one great choice and can last all year long in certain areas. Annuals typically yield the best bursts of color, and the flowering stage can be longer lasting than their perennial counterparts, however, perennials fall into the low maintenance category because they return year after year. Proper selection and placement of plants best suited to the site and climate means that those plants will be healthier, more attractive, and have fewer pest problems.

Despite TopScape’s being a brand new business, Donahoe has been working in the septic industry for the last 25 years and says of his business, “We are going national with it immediately.” TopScape can ship via FedEx or UPS directly to the homeowner or work through liquid waste haulers and onsite installers. TopScape may be new, but, like the approaching spring and blooming flowers, Donahoe only hopes to grow.

For more information, call 608.333.3610 or check out

Story by Megan McClure

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